Throwback Thursday: Rolled pavlova with peaches & blackberries from Sweet

Throwback to December 2017, when Food52 Baking Club was going through Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh…so many beautiful desserts and so little time. I managed to make the yoyos and the gingerbread tiles, but figured I’d have to wait til after the silly season was over to return to the book. Well, with Australia Day being tomorrow I thought it was only fitting that I make a pavlova and this book has more than one to choose from!

I’ve never made a rolled pavlova before, but the recipe was really straight forward (see online version here), it’s just egg whites whipped with caster sugar and then 2 teaspoons each vanilla, white wine vinegar and cornflour. Spread it out on a sheet pan, mine was bigger than the recommended size and filled it to the brim and bake for 35 minutes. Even with the bigger pan mine started to overflow, but didn’t quite make it to spill in the oven, so all was well.

Spread over whipped cream, fruit and almonds and roll it up, then place the rest of the cream along the top with remaining fruit and almonds and enjoy! Hopefully you can’t tell from the picture what a mess it was, spilling out everywhere, but it was yum all the same.

I wished I’d had baking paper, but we ran out earlier this week and I haven’t made it to the shops for more so I lined my pan with foil instead. I think this caused the meringue to be a little wet on the bottom, but like I said just before, it was still yum!

Since I haven’t perfected the roll I think I will give this recipe another go at a later stage to see if I can do better. It was a real crowd pleaser and I reckon if it looked better it would have had a much bigger wow factor.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Gratin Dauphinois

For today’s post my husband Aaron returns to take us through Julia Child’s Gratin Dauphinois (scalloped potatoes) from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Taking advantage of a reduced price Christmas ham, we needed a side dish that would go nicely with glazed ham, and we had wanted to try Julia Child’s scalloped potatoes for some time, so this was the perfect opportunity to give them a go.

When going over the recipe, my initial impression was that there wasn’t enough potatoes to feed our growing family, but when you add butter, cheese and milk, it gets to be quite heavy and there was plenty for us all.

The only real change we made from Julia’s recipe was to use crushed garlic in the stead of a 1/2 garlic clove, which possibly resulted in garlicky-er potatoes, but that really wasn’t a problem.

As above, the scalloped potatoes (I did old school thin-ish slices with a knife, but this recipe would definitely benefit from a mandolin) are joined by garlic, butter, milk and cheese (we had lots of Monterey Jack in the fridge so that’s what we used) . Add a bit of salt and pepper, throw this layered goodness into the (not quite working properly so they took a bit longer) oven, and we had a very tasty dish that complimented our ham very nicely, and the kids all LOVED it.

It will definitely be a recipe we will have again in the future.

Meatless Mexican

I was so excited to see that you can now buy canned pinto beans in Woolworths that I couldn’t wait to have bean burritos for dinner. (We seriously bought 12 cans of them and also 12 cans of black beans because they were super cheap this week!) This is a meal we do quite often that I’ve adapted from several recipes to easily accomodate vegans, but you can also easily add an animal protein for the meat lovers (or if there’s a crowd to feed). But on Mondays, this is often what it looks like.

Mexican corn cake

It started with this recipe, but my method is much simpler, and instead of butter and milk, I use canola oil so vegans can enjoy it too.

Preheat your oven to 180C. Cook 1 1/2 cups frozen corn with 1/4 cup of water in the microwave for 2 minutes. While this is happening, chuck the following ingredients into a small casserole dish: 1/2 cup canola oil, 1/3 cup masa, 1/4 cup polenta, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 tspn baking powder and 1/4 tspn salt. Then add the corn and water and use a stick immersion blender to mix it all together and to break up the corn kernels. Bake in a water bath, covered, for about an hour. I use a large ice cream scoop to serve like you’d see in many Mexican restaurants in the US.

Mexican rice

I got the original recipe here, but I’ve changed it so I can make it in my rice cooker.

Place 2 cups long grain white rice, 1 diced onion, 1 diced green chilli, 1 can chopped tomatoes, 2 cups vegetable stock, 1 Tbspn cumin, 1 tspn minced garlic, and 1/2 tspn salt in your rice cooker and stir together. Let it cook and then devour!

(If you have lemon or lime juice on hand, or fresh coriander, throw some of that on before serving. Usually we make guacamole, but alas there were no avocados at the store, so today we served it plain.)

“Refried” beans

I’m not sure where this recipe originated anymore, but basically it’s another throw everything in and give it a stir recipe. Drain and rinse 1 can of pinto beans and 1 can of black beans and place in a small saucepan. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock, 1 small diced onion, 1 tspn garlic, 1 diced green chilli and some salt to taste. Cook on high until the stock has reduced by half (about 20 minutes). Mash with a potato masher or use your stick immersion blender (this helps break up the onion and chilli). If it’s too watery continue to cook until desired consistency.

From here I just set out other staples (chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, grated cheese, sour cream, salsa, hot sauce, tortillas, taco shells and corn chips if I have them) on the table and everyone does what they want. I made myself a bean burrito with refried beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream in a wholemeal tortilla and then had rice and corn cake on the side (sadly our salsa was moldy and we’re out of hot sauce – clearly I’m in holiday mode still). If we’d had guacamole, I would’ve made a cheese quesadilla and had everything else as sides to dip them in. Aaron and my oldest two like to chuck everything into a tortilla as part of their burritos. Or if we have corn chips they like to make nachos and throw everything on top of corn chips and cheese that they’ve warmed together in the microwave.

The only things that make this meal vegetarian rather than vegan are the dairy products that accompany it (ie sour cream and cheese). If we were to serve this meal to vegans I’d simply make sure to have guacamole as a creamy condiment for them and wouldn’t sprinkle cheese on the refried beans like I did tonight.

Bouchon Bakery: Mille-feuille and book review

I was a bit apprehensive to make mille-feuille. I had no idea if re-rolling the scraps of puff pastry left over from the pithiviers would work and how the assembly of the dessert itself would work given the summer weather. But I pressed ahead and it turned out successful.

I rolled the puff pastry dough out to the size of a cookie sheet and baked it weighted down with another cookie sheet and a baking pan for over an hour. Since the bottom element is out on our oven, I’ve found that the cooking time and temperature are a lot closer to what recipes suggest (normally I would’ve burnt something to a crisp if I cooked it per the book). I used the leftover creme patisserie from the pithiviers as well, and mixed it with a simple French buttercream to create a mousseline. This was frozen in my 9×13″ pyrex casserole dish to ready for assembly. It was then as *simple* as cutting the pastry into 4 slices and the mousseline into 3 and sandwiching them together. I had a lot of help from Aaron at this stage because he has much better knife skills then I do. Getting the mousseline layered on the pastry proved challenging as it was warming up too quickly, but we worked it out by doing some fancy flipping over and back again. Then we just piped some whipped cream on top (cream whisked with vanilla and icing sugar mixture).

I loved how the dessert is flipped on its side to make it easier to cut. No mousseline seeping out the sides this way because you aren’t squashing it all together as you cut it. And it is incredibly delicious. We couldn’t fault it. If anything, I may have been tempted to add some passionfruit to the top, but that’s the Australian vanilla slice lover in me looking for that. It was absolutely perfect!

Bouchon Bakery cookbook has been a lot of fun to explore but there are a few real drawbacks for me. I understand how this is from a professional bakery, but a lot of the recipes do not translate to a home cook very well because of how much is leftover after you make a recipe that you either need to use in something else or chuck out. And the weighing of the eggs – like it is seriously aggravating. I was 5 grams off on an egg yolk measurement and had to crack into another egg just to get the tiniest bit out. I ended up using that egg as the egg wash for the pithivier, but still, I found it most unsatisfying to have to do this for each recipe.

That being said, everything I’ve made so far has been delicious, and the other recipes I’ve seen in the Facebook group have me wanting to make even more. Highest on my list are the cinnamon honey scones. Everyone has been making them and they sound and look amazing! I also still have a pate sucree in my freezer to use up, and I’ve been eyeing off the lemon meringue tart for a while now. So you’ll probably see a bit more of this book in future Throwback Thursday posts. For now, I’m planning how on earth I’m going to narrow down Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours to three must try recipes for next month!

To see the other two recipes I’ve tried from this book click on the links below:

Throwback Thursday: 3 Easy Recipes from The Food Lab

Throwback to November 2017, when the Food52 Cookbook Club was tackling J Kenji Lopez-Alt’s epic first cookbook, The Food Lab. We absolutely loved this book, so much so that we perpetually have it on reserve at the library on both our library cards and whenever it’s our turn to have it checked out, we welcome it home with a little hug.

Several recipes from The Food Lab were highlights on our Thanksgiving table (including the broccoli cauliflower casserole, the green bean casserole, the cranberry sauce and I’m sure there were more) but we’ve also made several others (eg pasta alla Norma, eggs florentine, biscuits and gravy) and the list just keeps growing.

The recipes in his book vary between simple and complex and we love the science sections where he explains a different ingredient or technique in depth. Here I’m going to tell you about 3 of our favorite simple recipes…

The Fry Sauce: My gosh is it good. And dead simple. Seriously, you chuck stuff in a bowl and stir it together. The first time we made it we used the dill pickle juice, but decided we wanted the texture relish offers so ever since we replace it 1:1. On burger night we usually buy frozen chips that we cook in the oven, and it has now become our standard condiment that we serve with them.

Similarly, the garlic croutons: Kenji says to use a good quality bread loaf, but one night I needed a salad and all I had was lettuce, store bought dressings and cheeses in the fridge so I thought if I had croutons we could make a caesar style salad. The only bread I had left was frozen wholemeal bread ends that I normally use for breadcrumbs (or often end up as my breakfast or lunch, cos you know, I’m a mom and that’s how I roll) so I cut them up and tossed them through a mixture of oil and garlic and a few other seasonings and baked them in the oven for about 20 minutes and voila! They were so addictive I kept coming back hours after dinner had finished and ate every last one. So good!

Lastly, his maple sage breakfast sausage. This recipe has changed my world. No seriously. Australia knows nothing of American style breakfast sausage and they are the poorer for it. And I have for ages been lamenting not having Jimmy Deans here. We have this delicious breakfast casserole recipe that I usually make at Christmas and special occasions and I’ve explored a few alternatives in the past but never been too convinced until I tried using this. And if you just buy pork mince like I did and omit the bacon, it is seriously no more than mixing the ingredients by hand in a bowl and leaving it in the fridge to marinate before frying it off in a pan. Dead set it is the bomb. We’ve used this in his biscuits and sausage gravy recipe and once when we had leftover mince we turned it into sausage and biscuit breakfast sandwiches (again something we don’t get here in Australia) and I feel instantly transported to America when I’m feeling a bit homesick even after almost 19 years.

There you have it, three reasons to get your hands on The Food Lab, or at the very least, follow J Kenji Lopez-Alt’s The Food Lab column on Serious Eats.

Bouchon Bakery: Pithiviers

I had grand plans to make madeleines and macarons this month. Grand plans. But then I made this apricot tart because our tree was so full of fruit and it left me with extra pastry and extra almond cream and I simply couldn’t let it go to waste. So I poured over the Bouchon Bakery cookbook looking at every recipe that incorporated almond cream (the leftover pastry has been frozen) and saw this recipe for Pithiviers, something I’d never heard of before but was instantly intrigued by. Puff pastry from scratch. Frangipane that is creme patisserie and almond cream whisked together. I can use up the mixed dried fruit that was leftover from our Christmas pudding. I am in!

The puff pastry was obviously the most time consuming, mainly because of the refrigeration time in between folds. You take a simply pastry dough and fold it around a butter block, roll it and fold it again several times (refrigerating for a couple hours between each fold) in order to create this gloriously layered pastry.

For the pithiviers you cut out two 9 inch circles, pipe the filling one of them, then use an egg wash to seal the second one over the other. Egg wash the top and use a pairing knife to draw a design on top (I went with the flower that was described in the book).

This left me with about 600 grams of pastry so I put it in the fridge to use in another recipe.

For the filling I had to make a creme patisserie which is not really new to me, but the method was. Everything was whipped together in the mixer before it went on the heat, where normally you need to be super careful about scrambling the eggs when you incorporate it into the flour and milk and sugar.  I was also surprised that they used custard powder, but love how rich and yellow the creme patisserie became with it in there. I reserved the amount called for in the recipe and saved the rest for another day (more on that soon).

Then I simply put it back in the mixer with the almond cream and after they were mixed thoroughly together, I added about a cup of brandied dried fruits and folded it in. I then tried to pipe a nice spiral on the bottom pastry but ended up smoothing it into a mound because the dried fruits made it quite splotchy.

It bakes for almost 2 hours and in the last few minutes you brush a sugar syrup on top to give it a lovely glossy sheen. It looked beautiful and tasted amazing – Aaron said if I used an apple filling instead of the frangipane/fruit mixture it would taste just like his favorite apple turnovers (there is a recipe for such a treat in this book that I may have to surprise him with at some stage).

I’m really glad I found this recipe and look forward to working out how to use up that creme patisserie and puff pastry in the next few days. Bon appetit!

Pasta with Zucchini and Vegetarian Sausages in Butternut Pumpkin Sauce

So what happens when it’s 5 pm and you realize you forgot to grocery shop over the weekend and you need to come up with dinner quickly? You look through the freezer and fridge and pantry and see what you can conjure up that might go together…

Zucchinis from a friend’s garden which we diced up, seasoned and fried off in a bit of olive oil in a large non stick frypan…

Field Roast Smoked Apple and Sage Vegetarian Sausages which we also diced up and added to the pan to cook with the zucchini…

…and Butternut Pumpkin pasta sauce which we poured over the top and simmered until the spiral pasta (not pictured) was cooked. Then we drained the pasta and stirred it through the sauce and served it all up into bowls with grated parmesan and red chilli flakes on the side for those who were game.

A meatless dinner that I never would have planned, but now that we’ve had it, I’d totally plan to make again!

 

Classic Challah Bakealong

Once a month, King Arthur Flour hosts a Bakealong encouraging their readers to have a go at a common recipe and post it to Instagram. This month marks their 17th challenge, I’ve participated in well over half of them, and it is challah!

I’ve made challah a few times as part of the Food52 Baking Club, but this recipe was a lot different, definitely easier, with the added challenge of braiding the dough as six strands. So of course, I had to do it.

Basically, you put all the dough ingredients into your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and knead into a ball.

Then remove it and knead it into a smoother ball and place it in a greased covered container until almost doubled (it took mine twice as long to rise than the recipe suggested).

Then you weigh it into six equal portions, roll them into long ropes and braid them using the technique provided. I watched the video and had to work upside down in order to follow along, but now that I’ve done it once it seems so much simpler than the pictures made it seem.

Brush on the egg wash and bake. And here’s where it took my bread almost 2 hours to cook because one of the elements in our oven died. *crying* It is still yum, still edible of course, but the crumb is nowhere near as nice as it should be and I’m really not happy that I’ve now got to work out what to do without a working oven for the near future. HELP!